I've been pondering something recently. I cut my biking teeth in the UK, living in a city of about 800,000 inhabitants. There were always loads of bikes around, but what sticks in my memory most firmly are the various eccentric characters who were around the scene at that time and who were familiar, at least by sight, to everyone who rode in the area. On any given day out on the roads there would be:- Tarzan, whose riding attire consisted of helmet, boots and speedos in all weathers, on his newish Honda CG125. Pegleg, an elderly gentleman whose left knee didn't bend and so he was to be regularly seen on the most incredibly ancient, slow and smoky Lambretta Ld, with his left foot supported on a bracket from the legshields, somewhere around headlamp height. The little Indian engineer who could be seen gunning the Rattiest Norton Dominator in the World through peak hour traffic every day on his regular commute. The Flying Crucifix, an old Jap four with the widest, most forward footpegs I've ever seen, combined with the highest apes ever and a grotty, bodge welded hardtail conversion, ridden by a skinny young bloke who seemed to have stepped straight out of some low budget, early '70s, British outlaw biker docudrama. Always splitting traffic at 10/10ths. Captain Wheelie on his old (well, not so old back then), matt black, defairinged, motocross barred, Pre-EXUP FZR1000. A bloke who used to build (and ride daily) the most astonishingly ugly but cleverly engineered bikes and trikes around what mostly appeared to be discarded Ford Pinto lumps. In hindsight, he created the Triumph Rocket 3 twenty years before Triumph did. Biggles, whose daily ride was a Brough Superior SS80 with the world's finest collection of oil leaks and an untidy but functional modern electrical system based around a car alternator and a huge Yuasa battery. An old chap of about 90 who still got around on a Yam XS250 with a single seat sidecar on the side. Occasionally you'd see Royce Creasey on one of his favoured feet forwards designs. Along with a large supporting cast of rats, chops, Eastern Block strokers and outfits, C90s with cabin trunk sidecars, Mad Max refugees and the rest of us down at the bottom of motorcycling's food chain attempting to have a little seriously low budget fun. I don't see anything like that these days, here in another country, and it's one of the few things I miss about that particular time and place. Maybe they don't exist anywhere any more, either driven out by rising costs and arbitary roadworthiness requirements or, at the other end of the economic scale, swallowed up in the Great Harley Explosion of recent years. The thought makes me sad.